Govt should be more accountable to public feedback, says Badlisyah

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SUBANG JAYA (March 12): The government should exercise more accountability when taking recommendations from the private sector, said former chief executive officer of CIMB Islamic Bank Datuk Badlisyah Abdul Ghani.

Badlishyah, who was also formerly deputy CEO of Lembaga Tabung Haji till last year and is now heading his own Islamic fintech company Souqa Fintech Sdn Bhd, said while many recommendations are voiced by the private sector to the government, many were not taken up without explanation.

Citing the yearly Budget tabled by the government, he said discussions would be held between the public and private sectors.

"But then our suggestions are not implemented. At least give some sort of explanation on how we can improve or properly tailor to government's needs. Or else it would be discouraging," he said at the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute's (ASLI) Malaysian Strategic Financial Outlook Forum here today.

Badlisyah also strongly suggested for the government to start fully investing in technology to facilitate feedback by the public.

"At the same time the platform should allow for performance-based reporting. People can track the implementation of the government's work," said Badlisyah.

Meanwhile, Rembau Member of parliament Khairy Jamaluddin concurred, adding that the government should consider implementing a 'sunshine policy' on government expenditure so that it is truly transparent.

"This is so that it will be more open and also accountable to the public on a near-time basis compared with a five-year basis," said Khairy.

Additionally, Khairy pointed out Malaysia has still quite a regressive tax system, and the government has to look into ways to make it more progressive.

"Apart from income tax, most taxes here are regressive and not progressive. Goods and services tax (GST) is also regressive, admittedly," he added.

He highlighted that there are many ways to make the Malaysian tax system progressive, such as tweaking the income tax threshold for those in the highest bracket.

"For those in the highest bracket, [their income tax threshold] should be increased. They should pay the top marginal tax rate. So, if you make more than a certain figure, then your income tax should be increased," said Khairy.

He suggested that other tax instruments such as capital gains tax or wealth tax could be introduced, but noted that these instruments have to be studied in more detail as there could be cases of capital flight or tax evasion.

"Hence, this is something the tax reform committee and the treasury have to look into," said Khairy.